10 june 2011

The benefits and harms of alcohol use in New Zealand: what politicians might consider

The New Zealand Government is currently considering ways to reduce alcohol-related harm, following on from a detailed report by the Law Commission. To inform discussions we briefly summarise the benefits and harms of alcohol use in this country. The most substantive benefits to society are probably pleasure to users and economic benefits (largely to industry). The most substantive harms are probably those to mental and physical health, harm to society (e.g. from crime) and adverse net economic impacts. Overall the picture is suggestive that New Zealand society would be likely to achieve a large net benefit from reducing heavy and binge drinking, and shifting alcohol consumption towards a pattern of smaller amounts. The substantial harm to non-users is a key argument for democratic governments to use regulations and taxes to minimise harm from alcohol.

Additional Info

  • Authors

    Wilson N.; Imlach Gunasekara F.; Thomson G.
  • Issue

    N.Z.Med.J. / pages 85-89 / volume 124
  • Published Date

    10 june 2011